Saturday, July 31, 2004

if I go with you to church on Sunday, will you go with me on Friday night?

Dan has a blog now. Yay! Life is good! As an added bonus, he's kind of a kung fu master of best guess spelling.

Rebecca sent me a package of all the jewelry I kept borrowing from her for the past few years. She has (had) all these gaudy earrings and unlikely necklaces her mom gave her, which weren't really in keeping with her minimalist punk rock chic, and I appropriated them with abandon. I opened the box, saw them, and started sniffling. Every time I run across something with her handwriting, I get all teary-eyed. And I'm losing her to the mysterious land of Europe...

Friday, July 30, 2004

And not to change the subject or anything, but apparently I'm Mother Teresa. Represent!

My chi is so fucking negative right now. Not attracting positive chi. Not at all.

With apologies to the children in the audience...

So, yeah. I carpool to work this week (I'm not working at Berkeley this week, but instead at Sucktastic University, San Rafael, CA) with my Coworker, and by carpool, I mean that I drive, and he admires my Cadillac, my fearless frequent lane changes, and my taste in eighties rap. Coworker and I agree on many deep issues, we discover...we both think that parents should spend more time with their kids, that Weird Al isn't the hot shit we thought he was back in eighth grade, and that Dire Straits is pretty good. Coworker and I get along well. We are upstanding young twentysomethings, work diligently, do not take our clothes off in public much, and are generally the sort of people you want teaching your children computer stuff 9 hours a day. The other counselors at Sucktastic University...aren't. Their idea of a work day is:

Roll in half an hour late.
Do not talk to parents, do not talk to kids.
Let kids do whatever on the computer.
Talk to their friends on the cell phone.
Vanish mysteriously and let other people watch your class for you.

This does not endear them to Coworker and me, who try our bestest and give our little all. Whatever. Anyway. So, Coworker and I are very happy that the week is over. To celebrate, we put a stupid rap cd on. We are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. For a long time. The stupid rap cd starts to malfunction. We both take our eyes off the road for 1/2 of a millisecond to analyze the problem, and I somehow roll into the car in front of us at three miles an hour.

My car is fine. That's because my car is a Cadillac El Dorado, a fucking giant grey box of STEEL, which STRIKES FEAR INTO THE HEART OF UNBELIEVERS, and has fucking BUMPERS which allow you to BUMP INTO THINGS WITHOUT HURTING THE CAR. In a rational universe, all cars would be designed that way.

The other car, however, is a souped up green Honda Civic, driven by the owner's Asian girlfriend. She is very nice. There are no scratches, and the tiniest of dents (almost completely have to feel the damn bumper to perceive the dip). We exchange phone numbers/insurance info. She will have a quote done before we call our respective insurance companies. Life goes on.

My chi, though...will never be the same.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Gather around kids, it's poetry time!

Illiad (excerpt)
Surely there is no blame on Trojans and strong-greaved Achaians
if for a long time they suffer hardship for a woman like this one.
Terrible is the likeness of her face to immortal goddesses.
Still, though she be such, let her go away in the ships, lest
she be left behind, a grief to us and our children.

- Homer, Illiad

Prayer For His Lady's Life
Here let thy clemency, Persephone, hold firm,
Do thou, Pluto, bring here no greater harshness.
So many thousand beauties are gone down to Avernus,
Ye Might let one remain above with us.

With you is Iope, with you the white-gleaming Tyro,
With you is Europa and the shameless Pasiphae,
And all the fair from Troy and all from Achaia,
From the sundered realms, of Thebes and of aged Priamus;
And all the maidens of Rome, as many as they were,
They died and the greed of your flame consumes them.

Here let thy clemency, Persephone, hold firm,
Do thou, Pluto, bring here no greater harshness.
So many thousand fair are gone down to Avernus,
Ye might let one remain above with us.

- Ezra Pound, Prayer for His Lady's Life
From Propertius, Elegiae, Lib. III, 26

Friday, July 23, 2004

News on the apartment hunt endeavour...this guy just sent me an email. He wants to be my roommate. His missive:

HI,I live in vista 2 bed apartment my rent is 700 a mouth and IM told that `s cheep for this. IM a painter and work a lot 46 and have a cat and 2 birds, i can cook i do smoke my name is Damon and phone # is ***-***-**** address is 1234 call Jules vista ca. hope to hear form you.

Yup. Exactly what I'm looking for in a roommate...46 year old man with a cat and 2 birds. I don't think he'll be hearing from (form?) me soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

One of the kids this week is convinced that every joke is funnier if the punchline is "a frog in a blender."

To wit:

What's red and green and travels at 160 mph?
A frog in a blender.

And also:

What's the difference between an 800 pound gorilla and a Republican?
A frog in a blender.

And in addition:

How many blondes does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A frog in a blender.

It's been a long week.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I saw some college friends and acquaintances at a wedding last weekend. Many of them are fleeing California for good in a month or two. Most of them I will, for all practical purposes, never see again.

Some, I hope, will grow up eventually. My fear is that, before they do, they will end up dying in one of those tragic "unicycling while drunk, stoned, and on fire" type accidents.

Some, I hope, will end up wildly successful, although not necessarily in terms of financial stability...they will be theologians, philosophers, and tinkerers with the fabric of reality. All that good stuff. My fear for those is that their brilliance will backfire, and that they will devote all their mental energy to dwelling on their failures and destroying themselves from the inside.

Some, I hope, will be recognized as artists and writers, and enrich Catholic culture through bearing witness to truth/beauty in all its forms. My fear is that they will end up forgoing the good in pursuit of the *shiny*, or submerging themselves in baser pleasures to forget the sense of loss and loneliness inherent in being, umm, lost and alone in a world hostile to all that is truly worthwhile (actually, this fear goes for all of the above).

I fear the same kinds of things for myself. Especially the whole dwelling on one's failures thing (my intellect always works doubletime when it comes to self-beration). Right now, my hopesanddreams are put on hold. Ideally, I'd be some kind of esoteric entomologist, who also studies theology and philosophy, and somehow raises a beautiful family simultaneously. I don't think any of us are close to our ideal life at the moment, nor do we see a path there. But lighten up a bit. It's just life. Being literate, intelligent, in possession of all one's teeth, and within a 10 mile radius of a good used bookstore is more than any medieval scholar could dream of. So, that's my new life ambition. Keeping my teeth. And praying for all of you.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I was at a wedding this weekend. Mike the Jew, a capital fellow, got hitched; we got him and his spouse some kind of fancy crockery. The ceremony was marvelous. I particularly liked the Jewish dancing. Any party game which involves joining hands, forming circles, and proceeding to trample the elderly and infirm while accompanied by sprightly klezmer music has to be good.

Thanks to some mixup after the wedding involving my car and drunk boys, I am now in possession of two eighteen packs of Budweisers (somewhat less than that, now), a litre of vodka (ditto), and a very nice Polaroid camera. I would love to return the Polaroid camera, but to whom? Email me if you know whose it is...missmarple at-sign'm looking at you, Dan...

Thursday, July 15, 2004

dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled

I am swamped, at the moment...working, freaking out about finding housing in the San Diego area (if you know anyone down San-Marcos-wards who is non-smelly, literate, drinks beer, and wants a roommate, do tell), and listening to a fantastic mix CD which Charlie sent me. So, may I direct you to the incipient Wanton and Forlorn? She's my college roommate, and much like me, only taller, blonder, smarter, and more fond of naughty language. Damn her eyes.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I need to start wearing a t-shirt which says "Not For Profit".

Because, I'm not.

Friday, July 09, 2004

beautiful things, recently:

neko case's cover of "christmas card from a hooker in minneapolis" (originally tom waits. of course.)

i used to like things like that (explodingdog)

grafitti i saw in a parking garage; a white post, with a small black spatter of paint on it, and in the center of the paint, an old school printed computer label which read "the angels were astronauts"

and a poem:

Get Drunk!

One should always be drunk. That's all that matters;
that's our one imperative need. So as not to feel Time's
horrible burden one which breaks your shoulders and bows
you down, you must get drunk without cease.

But with what?
With wine, poetry, or virtue
as you choose.
But get drunk.

And if, at some time, on steps of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the bleak solitude of your room,
you are waking and the drunkenness has already abated,
ask the wind, the wave, the stars, the clock,
all that which flees,
all that which groans,
all that which rolls,
all that which sings,
all that which speaks,
ask them, what time it is;
and the wind, the wave, the stars, the birds, and
the clock,
they will all reply:

"It is time to get drunk!

So that you may not be the martyred slaves of Time,
get drunk, get drunk,
and never pause for rest!
With wine, poetry, or virtue,
as you choose!"

- Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, "Be you drunken ceaselessly"

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I heard this on the college radio station this morning, and thought it fitting...not that I fall asleep in corners during parties. Umm. Not at all.

so let's find a party
and hide in the kitchen
i'll be in the corner
from the moment we walk in

- Our Lady of the Highway, "Friday Night"

All right, I do fall asleep at parties. I don't mingle well (maybe my network settings are broken?), drunk people en masse make me uncomfortable, and I mostly end up either trying to hide behind my friends or going through people's bookshelves. w00t.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

my students are so cute:

I really bring out the best in them, too:

Sunday, July 04, 2004

I am currently involved (on and off) in an informal dialogue on religion, and so forth, with a dear friend of mine. He is not Catholic, but he is intellectually honest (a rare quality, no matter what your religious persuasion). During the course of this discussion, he basically asked (I paraphrase, of course, do tell me if I'm wrong, Charlie): if you can itemize all the physical causes for every observable phenomenon, why would you need to bring in the notion of God at all? Isn't this just multiplying causes unnecessarily? Why would a rational being ever need to consider the existence of God based on an examination of nature?

I think that the assumption that you can, at least in theory, quantify every cause of any given phenomenon is itself dubious, but whatever. Let's say that there is no obstacle. Given that assumption (and world enough and time), if you consider the banana slug, you could eventually discover every factor which governed the being of the banana slug entity. Its physical construction, down to atomic level, would be transparent to you; its genetic code you could master and independently reproduce. This same genetic code would contain within it evidence of the countless aeons of increasing complexity which allowed the universe to go from 'zero' to 'slug,' thus eliminating the need for an intelligent designer in the historical sense. The continued subsistence of the banana slug you could attribute to a complex, but not supernatural, set of contingencies (a certain temperature, atmospheric makeup, humidity, altitude, means of nutrition, complementary organisms, and so forth).

Very well. Now why, considering the banana slug, would you ever think of God? Haven't you given a thorough account of its whys and wherefores? Isn't the origin of the banana slug a question quite independent of the plausibility of God's existence?

My answer is hard to articulate. I think that, even after you had comprehended the proximate causes of the banana slug, no matter how extensively, you would still be filled with wonder about the animal. The banana slug itself transcends the chain of causes that led to its existence. It is more than a quantifiable conglomeration of atoms; it is an organism, ordered and beautiful. There is a joy that we feel on apprehending beautiful creations (natural or artificial), and a desire for knowledge regarding them, that cannot be fully satisfied by an itemization of their history and components. If we experience a marvelous work of art, we are not content with knowing the physical makeup of the work of art (material cause), who created the art (agent cause), or what the structure of the work of art is (formal cause). We also want to know what it means (final cause). The same thing applies to natural objects; we want to know why the banana slug is there, in a fuller sense than is possible through knowing what its parents were and what it eats to stay alive. Now. Perhaps this sense of longing for a deeper comprehension of the natural world is a relic of a more primitive intellectual tradition; an inaccurate anachronism, which we should quash in our souls. Or perhaps, as I believe, the natural world does have a final cause, and our innate desire to know the ultimate causes of things may well bring us to consider the existence of God.

Nota bene: I haven't tried to provide a proof of God's existence; just a reason why you might consider it, given the universe at hand. And this is in no way a condemnation of scientific inquiry...far from it. However, the question remains of why a banana slug is good and beautiful...and natural science would not have come about if the natural world was not good and beautiful...but still, it cannot answer that question.

Nota bene (2): If this is all just babble (and it may well be), just ignore it. I don't know anything anyway, and the more philosophy I read, the less I know. I've probably accumulated negative knowledge, at this point.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I'm in love with so many things that I want to scream and cry and break things.

Does this make sense?

I'm especially in love with my friends. I tried to call some of you, tonight, but you are all away. I have so many things to talk about, and I miss being able to find friends, at the end of a long week (so damn long, these weeks), to pile in a van with and go drinking. I miss, not so much the drinking, as the commiseration, the companionship, the earnest conversations, and the solemn moments of listening to Johnny Cash and hoping that someday, everything would work out all right for all of us.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I finished Anna Karenina recently (I've also finished Jean Paul Sarte's Age of Reason, J.D. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and started Flaubert's Sentimental Education). I love Tolstoy. But I hate Tolstoy endings. All his stories are so wonderful and divine-providence-meets-social-structure-corruption-salvation-damnation-y. Then he ends these magnificent creations with these trite, one-dimensional depictions of the ideal married life...a literary rendition of "Love and mawwiage (and women in the home), love and mawwiage (and Christianity)...go together like a horse and carriage..."

Or maybe I am a crass reader, and Tolstoy's endings have a hidden depth and complexity which I, with my unduly emancipated sensibilities, am totally missing. Feel free to enlighten me.